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Star Pine Tree Lights Up Downtown Santa Barbara

By Victoria Sanchez, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
Published On: Dec 09 2013 09:44:04 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 09 2013 09:50:13 PM CST

Decorating the Tree of Light

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

The 110-foot star pine tree lit up downtown Santa Barbara this weekend.

For around 90 years, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has  decorated the tree with Christmas lights.

"Three, two one!"

The electrical workers and their families cheered as the lights switched on.

It's a long-standing tradition to decorate the tree. The fifth generation children flipped the switch this year.

"I like it when we count down," said one of the kids.

Before the countdown, the lights went up.

"We've had people go up the tree and come back down the tree and not make it to the top. We've had a few people go up, do it one year only and say, 'That's not happening again,'" said Chuck Huddleston with IBEW 413.

But one man has been climbing the 110-foot tree for more than 20 years.

"It's something I feel I can do to give back to the community. It's something I enjoy doing and love doing with the family," said Matt Russell, an IBEW member.

Russel along with Colter Popovich, free climbed the tree all the way to the top.

As the people down below got the strings ready, Russel threw down the rope.

"Let me know when you're ready, Pete! OK here we go, after this white truck!" he shouted from the tree.

Twenty times he pulled up 100 feet of Christmas lights and hooked them on top.

It's a daunting task from way up high.

"Popovich? How you doing?" said Russel with a laugh.

"It's pretty high, a little sketchy at times but it's fun when you get up there, it's a great view so it's worth it," said Popovich.

"Beautiful view. North, the mountains. That's west, south, and down Chapala, east. Very cool," said Russel.

After the hard work, 40,000 lights lined the tree.

"It's just a wonderful thing. It's a good way to kick off the Christmas celebration and we look forward to it every year," said Bob Russel, another IBEW 413 member.

The IBEW retirees also raised $3,500 for the Unity Shoppe.

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